Behind the Wheel
2021 Mercedes-Benz E 350 Review: More of the same is good enough
If you were expecting something drastically different form the 2021 Mercedes Benz E-Class, you'd be sorrily mistaken. That isn't a bad thing, however. Mercedes-Benz delivering exactly what you expect the Mercedes-Benz E 350 to deliver is exactly what buyers are looking for.
The sedan has been given a refresh the 2021 model year. If you've been in any other 2021 Mercedes model you might look at the E-Class and go, "yep, that works" and you wouldn't be wrong. The look doesn't invoke an emotional response but rather a satisfied nod in the Merc's direction.
The base model E 350 has a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine under its hood that is good for 255 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. Shifting through the nine-speed automatic is smooth as silk and acceleration is rapid enough for the average citizen. Other E-Series models get more power and added EQ Boost mild-hybrid technology.
The back of the Mercedes E 350 is stately.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz
The new MBUX infotainment system features two 12.3-inch displays under one screen cover, just like in other Mercedes models like the GLA and GLS. The cockpit screen can be themed to Modern Classic, Sport, Progressive, and Discreet themes. There's also mood lighting that can be changed to the color of the driver's choice. Mainly it just serves as a distraction that reflects on the windows at night.
The touch pad for the infotainment screen remains groan-worthy. In some ways it functions well (swiping, making selections) but in most others the touch pad just services as a continuous reminder that it a touch screen is best and a touch pad, styled like what is in the 2022 Acura MDX, would serve better.
What does work well is the car's navigation system. The augmented display features easy-to-understand turn-by-turn directions that give the driver a better idea of where to turn than any system on the market today.
Its cabin is well-appointed and offered with a variety of textiles and finishes that range from mundane to eyebrow-raising. Seats have remained predictably comfortable for short trips but hard for long stretches of driving. There's plenty of room in the back seat for two adults and trunk space is nothing to sneeze at.
The interior is very much what you'd expect from a modern Mercedes.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz
The car's steering wheel has a sensor that is able to tell if your hands are off of it for even an instant and reminds you to do so. For anyone that travels distances, especially in a relatively straight line, the annoyance of not being able to drive one-handed is a nag on the driving experience.
It's not short on other safety features either, including Active Speed Limit Assist that lessens the speed you are traveling to the speed limit when the car passes and reads a speed limit sign. At best, the tech is an annoyance masquerading around as a safety feature. At worst, the safety feature becomes a safety hazard when the traffic all around the car begins whizzing by you as you try to get back to where you were and reset.
The car's safety systems are a distraction.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz
That's the long and the short of it. Mercedes has once again made a car that you'll be comfortable owning, even liking, though it won't be a passionate love affair due to the increased nagging of the car's safety systems and the continued presence of the infotainment touch pad.